updated 03:35 pm EDT, Mon August 22, 2011
Microsoft and Motorola formally launch
Microsoft on Monday formally launched into the ITC side of its patent dispute with Motorola. The trial will answer Microsoft's allegations that Motorola's Android hardware violates seven patents. If successful, the case would ban imports of key Android phones, although most of those named in the suit, like the Droid X and Backflip, are either discontinued or on their way out.
The complaint is believed to be the first real challenge of Microsoft's assertions that it effectively owns Android through patents. Its campaign against Android manufacturers has followed a pattern similar to that with Linux, where it has so far counted on companies being unwilling or unable to contest patents in court. Motorola has been one of the few willing to challenge the patents and has gone so far as to countersue Microsoft.
Microsoft's patent claims have been conspicuously exempt against companies that also agree to make Windows Phones, such as Dell, LG, and Samsung, although that may be changing.
Motorola's prospects for mounting a defense aren't strong. A venue move for Motorola's response lawsuit has meant that it may face a reckoning first and be forced to settle if Microsoft wins early on.
Motorola recently received some financial backing through the Google buyout, but this in turn could be damaging to Google if it loses. Should the acquisition complete, Google will be responsible for making legal deals and could end up having to agree to a Microsoft license for Android directly.